Working With Male Voices

Weekly Teaching Tip Mar. 12, 2012

Normally the biggest problem that male singers have is that they try and carry up too much weight. This also means that their vowels tend to go wide and their larynxes tend to rise. There are two approaches you can take to fix this.

#1 (preferred) you can try and help them keep their larynx down as the pitch ascends up in their body. This is usually best accomplished by using ‘hooty’ sounds using ‘gee’, ‘goo’ or ‘gooh’ (as in good). The problem with this approach is that it may take several weeks/months before the sound is strong enough to actually use in a song. The male singer (who usually wants a quick fix) can get discouraged or feel that this sound will never be strong enough or be the right sound that he wants.

So, sometimes you can try approach #2, having the singer do a hard pharyngeal sound such as ‘nay’ or ‘nagh’ (as in cat). This may seem counter-intuitive since ‘nasty’ sounds tend to make the larynx rise. However, there is really two things that the male singer that tries to pull chest needs, #1, a lower larynx and #2, a thinned out vocal cord. So, this ‘nasty’ “nay’ or ‘nagh’ or ‘agh’ can help the singer keep the feeling of power and strength while getting more release by getting the vocal cord to thin. Having the singer stick out his tongue can help this exercise as it makes it more difficult to move into ‘swallow mode’ which is basically what is happening when the larynx rises.

Once he can do this exercise and he starts to relax, he can diminish the ‘nasty’ sound and allow the larynx to lower and get a more natural sound while maintaining the thinner vocal cord.

Here is a video of Dean Kaelin working with two male students using both of these approaches.

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